Face Trials with the Word and the Spirit

“Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,” (1 Peter 4:1).

Think as Jesus thought.

Sounds like a tough assignment, does it not? The good news is that we have the same resources that Jesus had during His time on earth, for He lived by the Scriptures in the power of the Spirit in all that He did.

A good example of this is found in Matthew 4.  Jesus had been led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where He prayed and fasted for 40 days. This season came just after He permitted Himself to be baptized by John in the Jordan River.

During these desert days, Satan tested Jesus with continuous temptations of all varieties. We are told of three specific attempts made by the devil to divert the Savior from His mission.

Consider this:  the original Adam fell in the Garden because he failed to hold fast to the Word the Lord had given to him as it related to eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. That man, formed from the dust and situated in a place full of trees, was given a place he was to dress and to keep. He also was given a helpmeet in the woman Eve.

The last Adam, born of the Virgin Mary, the Word made flesh, was alone in the wilderness. Still, He had the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, to fend off every offensive of the enemy.

“Hungry? Turn stone to bread and eat up,” the devil said. Jesus referenced Deuteronomy 8:3 and declared, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

Next, Jesus was carried to the highest precipice of the Temple. “Throw Yourself down,” Satan challenged. “The Scriptures say that angels will catch You. What a sign that will be to those who see it.”

Again, Jesus quoted Deuteronomy:  “It is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test’” (Deuteronomy 6:6). Perhaps, you have heard stories of atheists who commanded the Lord to prove His existence by striking them dead. In His mercy, quietness, and confidence, God refused to answer them.

Put the Father to the test? The Son would not do it. Jesus saw no need to provide any sign to the devil there and then. The legions of demons knew the Son quite well actually. And their confessions of His reality were so noisy that Jesus stifled them.

‘Be gone, Satan’

At last in Matthew 4, we read that Satan attempted to push the pride button. He made an offer only he could make. A parade of worldly kingdoms was flashed before the eyes of Jesus. All of these cities were under the control of the prince of this world and its cosmic system.

“Bow to me,” the devil said, “and all of these things shall be yours.”

Another challenge gets answered with “It is written.” But first Jesus puts the devil in his place:  “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve’” (Matthew 4:10).

Note the directness of the statement. Jesus flipped the playing field on the adversary. The Lord is the devil’s Lord, too. No matter how much rebellion he may perpetuate, the devil, a created being, remains a servant of God and of Heaven’s purposes. At this command, the defeated Satan had to depart, likely in rage and in reluctance, but he had to go, according the power of the Word.

The devil could not comprehend the humble and meek way of the Son. Satan, a being splendidly made and equipped, envied Jesus, and it mystified him that God would wrap His glory in flesh. He gagged at the pronouncement of honor and privilege afforded those made “a little lower than the heavenly beings” (see Psalm 8:5).

The angels’ glory is as much a gift of grace to them as salvation is to us. We are alive because God made us alive. Our souls are eternal in dimension, and they are destined to persist because their activation is sourced in the breath of the Lord.

Passion for the Will of God

I said all of this because of how Peter began this chapter. He pointed to the sufferings of Christ and told us to face our own sufferings with His very mind. And the mind that the Son possessed was the mind fashioned by the Word, the Bible.

Psalm 119 is a great place to gain understanding of how much force the Word carries even in the face of evil. By taking heed to the Scriptures and by storing their sentences inside us, we can discover forgiveness and healing and discernment. We can learn to fight temptations as Jesus fought them with the weapon of “It is written.”

The lusts of our flesh do not have to dominate us. Rather, our passions can be directed to “the will of God” (1 Peter 4:2).

Be aware, however, to live like Jesus causes agitation to some. Peter tells us this:  “They are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge …” (1 Peter 4:4-5).

Expect warfare, Peter wrote. Insults shall come. None of us likes to be mocked, persecuted, or troubled. Our refusal to run with the pack on the wide road to destruction marks us as different. To Jesus, the religious, self-righteous ones affixed this label:  “Friend of publicans and sinners.” Thank God for that. This was a badge of honor to the Son.

“The end of all things is at hand. …” (1 Peter 4:7).

This reality should govern our minds and hearts. And so Peter provides instruction for living in these times.

Let the Holy Spirit do His work and bring discipline to your walk of faith. Be serious and prayerful more and more and more.

Love and let the love of God flow freely. Forgive, forgive, and forgive again. Forgive others and forgive yourself. Click To Tweet

Love and let the love of God flow freely. Forgive, forgive, and forgive again. Forgive others and forgive yourself.

Let love cover and put away the multitude of sins. Stop living in the muck and mire of failures past. David, in the midst of his recovery from his horrendous fall with another man’s wife, prayed and believed that the Lord never despises the “broken and contrite heart” (see Psalm 51:17).

Seek mercy and ask the Lord to restore the joy of your salvation. What great advice this is. Most sin comes because we somehow lose sight of how great a miracle it is to be saved. In fact, our very salvations set off celebrations of joy among the angels who stood before the face of the Father in Heaven (see Luke 15:10).

Let go of grumbling. Rather, speak truth and serve with gentleness and care. The grace of God is manifold – with so much variety and with an extensive reach. It can meet anyone in any place.

Whatever gift you have, present it to Him for use in the cause of redemption.

Entrusted to the faithful Creator

Learn and grow and “do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12). It can be difficult to see ones living in wickedness who seem to have so much going for them. The writer of Psalm 73 wondered about this so much he put it down in a song. He lamented “I have cleansed my heart in vain; why have I washed my hands in innocency?” (Psalm 73:13).

He admitted that he was missing the point of it all, but still he went to the sanctuary. There, in the congregation, he got the right sense of Heaven in the fellowship with God and His people.

The household of God is Heaven’s utmost concern. His judgment starts there, among those who call Him Savior, Father, and Lord. His chastening and discipline are necessary as much as refining fires are required to purify gold and silver. The fervent heat of God’s love burns to make us shine His light is the world that He has overcome.

Look up and rejoice, knowing that your Savior stands as your Advocate and Intercessor.

Look around and pray for those in need of Him to be changed by the Gospel of God.

“Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good” (1 Peter 4:19).

 

 

 

 

 

Steve Andrulonis
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